Sunday, February 12, 2012

CVGS Research Group Meeting Review - 8 February 2012

The February meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS) Research Group was on Wednesday, 8 February in the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library Computer Lab, with 17 in attendance. The meeting was moderated by Randy Seaver.

There were many news items of interest during the last month, and Randy described the public access to the Social Security Death Index, the impending release of the U.S. 1940 Census, an updated GEDCOM, the use of Dropbox, the RootsTech 2012 Conference, the emergence of brightsolid as a commercial company with U.S. resources, and the FamilySearch research wiki and research courses. The brochure for RootsTech 2012 and some of the syllabus articles were passed around the group. Randy reminded attendees that they can watch about 20 hours of streamed video on the website from the conference.

In the discussion of current research problems and successes, these issues came up:

* Bob C. had been searching for links to royal ancestors through his Neville line, and found a book on the Westmoreland family that provides the information that connects them through a name change back in the 16th century.

* Susi asked what the best way to publicize research problems and research queries that CVGS members have to the rest of the genealogy world, and get research advice or suggestions, other than through message boards. Her example was our colleague Shirley's Wright family problem in upstate New York. Randy suggested that the CVGS blog could be used to publish genealogy queries or requests from CVGS members so that blog readers or search engines will pick up fresh content.

* Sam asked how other researchers pursue research on a new family line. What do they do first, then next, etc.? The group consensus was to:

* Search online family trees to determine if research has been done before
* Use free and commercial historical record collections to find evidence for the family line, starting with the latest generation and working backward in time.
* Do searches on Google, Mocavo, Dogpile, etc. for specific family names and residences
* Consult the Family History Library Catalog for books or manuscripts for specific surnames and family locations. Order microfilm to find historical records that are not yet online.
* Consult other repository catalogs for holdings on specific surnames and localities.
* Write to or travel to the distant repositories to research in their holdings
* Travel to the distant localities to do research at local repositories (genealogical societies, historical societies, local archives) and organizations/businesses (churches, schools, cemeteries, mortuaries, etc.).

The question was asked "What online resources should be consulted?" Randy, with suggestions from the group, compiled this list on the white board (for U.S. research):

* (commercial, free at FHC, free at San Diego city and county library branches) - historical records, family trees, learning center, more.
* (free at home) - historical records, research wiki, research courses, family trees, etc.
* RootsWeb (free at home) - WorldConnect database, death indexes for CA, KY, ME, TX, many user free pages
* United States GenWeb pages (free) - one for each state, one for each county, many user contributions
* Find-a-Grave (free) - cemetery records, many transcriptions, some photographs
* Fold3 (commercial, free to use at FHC) - historical records, memorial pages.
* WorldVitalRecords (commercial, free to use at FHC) - historical records.
* (commercial) - historical records
* AmericanAncestors (commercial, some free New England databases, free to use at Carlsbad) - historical records, scholarly journals
* GenealogyBank (commercial) - historical and present-day newspapers
* Google (free to use) - search for specific names, years, locations (no deep links)
* Mocavo (free to use) - searches only genealogy websites (no deep links)
* Dogpile, Bing, others (free to use) - different search from Google.

That lead to the question "What offline resources should be consulted, and where can I find them?" The group offered (for U.S. research):

* Birth, Marriage, Death records - local, county or state offices; local libraries, genealogical and historical societies. Some are on Family History Library (FHL) microfilm. Many are online.
* Land, probate, guardianship records - local or county offices; local libraries, genealogical societies, historical societies; Many records pre-1920 are on FHL microfilm. Few are online. Indexes for recent records may be online at county office websites.
* Military records - State Archives, National Archives, hereditary organizations. Many records are on FHL microfilm, many are online.
* Immigration records - National Archives. Many are on FHL microfilm, many are online.
* Naturalization/citizenship records - National Archives, local, county or Federal courts. Some are on FHL microfilms, some are online.
* Historical newspapers - local, state and regional libraries may have indexes and microfilm. Some are online at free or commercial sites.
* City directories - local, state and regional libraries may have books on shelf. Some are on FHL microfilms and some are online.
* Tax records - county and state offices. Many are on FHL microfilm, and some are online.
* School records - local historical societies, school offices.
* Church records - local historical societies, local churches, denomination offices. Some are published, some are on FHL microfilm, some are online.
* Cemetery records - local repositories may have books, local historical and genealogical societies, local businesses, many are on FHL microfilm, many are online.
* Voter registration lists - local repositories, local historical or genealogical societies, some are on FHL microfilm, some are online.

It was a spirited discussion, and the group enjoyed being able to use the computer lab terminals to do a bit of research in the process.

The next meeting of the CVGS Research Group will be Wednesday, 14 March at 12 noon in the Computer Lab at the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street in Chula Vista). If you have research challenges, research successes, or research questions to ask, please come and share with the group.

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